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[SANET-MG] EU urged to block inports of Syngenta corn
It seems beyond common sense , or for that matter arrogance, for Syngena
to continue stone walling the molecular data on Bt10.All legal releases
have had to provide that very same data. They may be making a stand
similar to the GM Taliban who want all control of GM crops to stop.Or it
is more likely, they have something very damaging to hide!
Nature commented about the role of USDA as a public relations arm of
Multi National Corporations rather than a regulator and legitimate
research organization. It is very easy for Syngenta of be arrogant so
long as USDA supports illegal actions.
MEMBER STATES URGED TO BLOCK ILLEGAL US MAIZE IMPORTS
EU should go beyond crisis management from GM Watch
Brussels, 15 April 2005 - European environment, farming and consumer
groups are calling on EU member states to vote today in favour of
emergency measures to stop imports of US maize that cannot be guaranteed
free of an illegal genetically modified corn.
The 25 EU countries are voting on a draft Decision by the European
Commission (1) which would make it legally binding that all shipments of
animal feed from the US are certified free of the experimental GM maize
called Bt 10. Since the Swiss-based company Syngenta refuses to give
Governments the information needed to reliably test for the Bt10
contamination, the measures proposed by the Commission are likely to
result in a de facto ban on the import of US maize-based animal feeds
Adrian Bebb of Friends of the Earth Europe said:
"It is time this contamination stopped. The public should never have
been exposed to an untested and illegal genetically modified crop. This
incident exposes an incompetent biotechnology industry, an absence of
regulation in the United States and a breakdown in Europe's monitoring
of food imports."
The crisis around the illegal Bt 10 maize has revealed that the EU does
not have the tools to test for the presence of illegal GMOs in the EU's
food and feed supply. The European Commission only found out about the
illegal maize when the agrochemical firm Syngenta announced three weeks
ago that it had sold unlicensed GM seeds to US farmers for four years. (2)
Francesco Montanari of the consumer Co-operatives organisation EURO COOP
"The Commission only acted once this food crisis was already ongoing.
Public confidence is being put at risk once again. The EU should now
come up with measures that ensure that such cases of contamination do
not happen again."
Whilst the NGOs are backing the Commissions proposal, they are urging
the European Commission and the member states to go further and:
* urgently review the EU's monitoring system to guarantee public
protection from unapproved GM products. Regular testing should not only
take place for maize but also for soya, oilseed rape and other products
that could contain illegal GMOs.
* further investigate the potential negative impacts on human health and
the environment of the illegal Bt 10 maize (3)
* start an in depth investigation and force Syngenta to reveal how Bt 10
got on to the market and why it took the company four years to discover
* insist that Syngenta sets up a compensation fund to pay for the
testing of maize products worldwide.
Francis Blake of IFOAM EU group - the organic farmers association- said:
"This seems to be yet another display of deceit, secrecy, incompetence
and arrogance from the GM industry The EU is now faced with the sort of
mess that vindicates all our concerns about the problems of GMOs and the
risks they pose to us all. Its response must be uncompromising"
Mauro Albrizio of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) said:
"The US authorities and Syngenta are downplaying the health risks of Bt
10. This is misleading, because Bt 10 contains a gene that breeds
resistance against the ampicillin family of antibiotics. Under EU law
the commercial use of such genes is forbidden on health and
environmental grounds." (4)
Friends of the Earth Europe, Adrian Bebb: + 49 (0)1609 490 1163 (mobile)
EURO COOP, Francesco Montanari: + 32(0)2 285 7400
EEB, Mauro Albrizio, vice president: + 32 (0)479 940251 (mobile)
IFOAM EU group, Marco Schlüter: +32(0)2 735 2797
(1) Member states meet today in the Standing Committee on the Food
Chain and Animal Health. The draft Commission decision is available from
Friends of the Earth.
(2) The incident was first made public through an article in Nature on
22 March. Between 2001 and 2004 Syngenta sold several hundred tonnes of
a GM maize seed, called Bt10, to US farmers, mistaking it for another GM
maize, Bt11. Unlike the Bt11 maize, Bt10 has not been approved for human
consumption anywhere in the world. It has been estimated that around
1000 tonnes of the illegal GM maize entered the European food chain and
was even planted at test sites in Spain and France. The original Nature
article can be found at:
(3) Syngenta claimed that the Bt10 maize was "physically identical" to
Bt11, a view initially endorsed by governments and the European
Commission. NGOs disagreed, pointing out that the unapproved GMO also
contained a controversial antibiotic resistance gene, which confers
resistance to an important group of antibiotics. Syngenta finally
admitted that this was indeed the case.
(4) Bt 10 contains a gene, which confers resistance to the ampicillin
family of antibiotics. In a recent guidance, the European Food Safety
Authority stated that GMOs containing this gene should not be approved
for cultivation and their use restricted to field trials. Furthermore
article 4.2. of the EU's Deliberate Release Directive 2001/18/EC for
GMOs says that "genes expressing resistance to antibiotics in use for
medical and veterinary treatment" (which is the case for ampicillin)
should be phased out by 31 December 2004.
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